One look at Rainsford and it’s easy to assume she lives off for her looks. Icy azure eyes, long auburn mane, naturally slender figure, and an arresting sultry stare give her an air of ultra-refinement and grace, then the multi-colored finger nails, tattoos and nipple piercings tell us that there is much more about this rare beauty than meets the eye.
Rainsford made her stardom debut as Miss Golden Globe 2012, yet her true debut performance was in Mad Men as Cindy, the chinchilla clad bombshell who wore next to nothing under a fur coat during an addition for Don Draper. Rainsford had no lines, she didn’t need to speak. Aside from her breathtaking beauty, it was the look in her eyes, her subtle expression, her slow and determined movements that stole the scene. She was unforgettable.
Then came an appearance in Ocean’s 8, a part in the film Might Fine with her mother, Andie MacDowell, and most recently the popular TV series, Love In The Time of Corona, which was shot in her home during quarantine. In between other acting projects, Rainsford, who is known as Rainey Qualley in acting circles and Rainsford in her music pursuits, has been focusing primarily on her music, which she writes and sings.
In 2016, she released the song ‘Too Close’, followed by her single ‘Rendezvous’ and then her 2018 EP Emotional Support Animal. Her sound is an R&B pop hybrid, while her sensual and smokey voice has the power to hypnotize. Right in the middle of COVID Rainsford released her video, ‘Crying in the Mirror’, which was directed by her bestie and supermodel Cara Delevingne and stars fellow friend and supermodel Kaia Gerber.
For Rainsford’s latest single and video, ‘Oh My God ’, she floats on fluffy clouds in cotton candy skies and plays with miniature humans no bigger than three-inches. Having cast her friends to be in the video with her, like Luka Sabbat whom she nearly eats, it’s light, playful and colorful eye-candy during a time when we all need a lift. She wistfully sings about wanting to be our favorite flavor, which she definitely is. I recently photographed Rainsford in New York and later caught up with her over the phone to discuss her music, new release, the inspiration behind her songs and videos, her confession about insecurity and how she overcomes self-doubt.
AS IF: Hey Rainsford, you back in LA?
Rainsford: I am, I’m pet-sitting for my mom. (Dog(s) bark loudly).
That was perfect timing! (Laughs) I’m just going to jump in here because I didn’t want to ask you too many questions while we were shooting because I wanted to save the answers for now, and everyone on set agreed that you owned the camera. So, I wanted to get an understanding on how you became comfortably acquainted with the camera. Of course, I know both your parents were models and your mother is a movie star, but just because the parents are good at something doesn’t mean the children will be.
You are incredibly versed and natural in front of a camera. You act, you play the guitar, you sing, you’re a songwriter. That’s a lot of talent to cultivate.
Well, I’ve always loved the performance arts. I started dancing when I was really young. My mom put my sister and I in ballet when we were something like two years old. I eventually discovered that I could sing, I just loved to sing when I was young, and I started to write songs. I eventually made my way into acting, but right now I’m focusing on my music videos to promote my music and stuff. My talent, like anything, you learn the more you do it.
In your acting career you’re known as Rainey Qualley, but you go by your first full name, Rainsford, for music. What are the roots of Rainsford and why separate the two?
Rainsford was my great-great grandmother on my mom’s side, I’m named after her. And, for a long time I was focusing exclusively on music and I wanted to be taken seriously as an artist. A lot of people had projected this idea onto me that if you want to be taken seriously, you have to pick one profession: acting or music. I was young and didn’t know any better so I kind of put acting on the backburner, but then I was like, fuck that, I love both and I wanna do both, so I started pursuing acting more intensely again. I’ve been able to pursue both simultaneously and it’s nice to have a bit of separation from who I am as a musical artist and who I am as an actor. Having a separate name as an artist makes it feel more like a special project.